With the sun shining, and weather warming up, Canadians will soon be celebrating the kickoff to summer’s long weekend season. The Victoria Day Long Weekend is just around the corner, and with it, often comes an unfortunate increase in traffic related deaths and serious injuries.

A recent Alberta study, using half a decade’s worth of provincial data, found that fatal accidents jumped by 18 percent on long weekends. While it seems intuitive to blame the fatalities on impaired drivers and speeders, the study found quite the opposite: those causes are actually most prevalent during regular weekends. 

On long weekends, however, more drivers are travelling longer distances in vehicles filled with family and/or friends, and they may be visiting unfamiliar territory.  Distractions are high, as drivers fiddle with maps, GPS, phones, and other gadgets to find their way. When these distractions are combined with higher traffic volume and higher vehicle occupancy, the chances of catastrophic multi-vehicle crashes are escalated. Figuring out what set off the chain of events, and who/what is to blame often requires the expertise of traffic accident reconstruction specialists.

The study also showed that holiday travels are riskier for fatal accidents because of fatigue and inattentiveness, particularly when the journeys are longer and more monotonous than drivers are accustomed to. Tired drivers are more susceptible to run-off-the-road, right-angle, and left-turn-across-path collisions. Driving after sunset further heightens that risk.

As we head into our summertime long weekend season, The RCMP and Traffic Sheriffs will again be out in full force conducting enforcement and investigations on our highways. However, those efforts can only do so much, as catastrophic accidents continue to happen year after year. If you lose a loved one in a highway collision, or are injured yourself, it is important that you understand your rights, and how to protect the rights of a deceased person’s dependents.